Jessie Rachel Rainbow nee Hicks


Born in Westcote near Stow-on-the-Wold she often spoke, with a cheeky glint in her eyes, of the many antics she and her two younger siblings got up to. She had a happy childhood fondly recalling the many times she went off shepherding with her father George, the many cycle rides they went on together and babysitting the Hartley’s children with her mother.

Jessie started her working life as a kitchen helper and cleaner in a farmhouse near Kingston Bagpuize. The family moved back to the Wychwoods to a small cottage in Plum Lane, Shipton.

Jessie loved to speak of her father teaching her to dance and of the many dances they went to as a family. She only spoke of two serious relationships. The first she dumped when his parents commented she was “a bit plump” after being sent a photograph of her; Jessie was not impressed! So that was the end of him. Her parents introduced Jack (Sydney) Rainbow to her and although 15yrs her senior they went on to marry on 31 July 1954.

They began married life at 4 St Michaels Close, living with Jack’s parents. Although for a short time they moved to their own home in Milton, they moved back to look after Jack’s father during his illness, where they remained happily married until Jack sadly died July 2007.

Jessie had various jobs but most will remember her for the 44 yrs she spent as chambermaid at the Shaven Crown Hotel. Famously, Room 11 was believed to be haunted so Jessie refused point blank to go in that room unless she had someone with her. She and the ‘ghost’ appeared in the Oxford Mail on April 7 1997 in an article entitled ‘Ghostly Monk Changes his Habit’.

As many of you will know she absolutely loved her garden and for the 20 years of my going back and forth to Jessie’s I saw the lawn shrinking and flowers, shrubs and trees (and weeds) moving in. More pruning, clipping and weeding!

With her health and mobility declining, coffee mornings and Good Companions and our occasional trips out became her only real source of socialising with others. Sadly, Lockdown last March meant these things were no longer happening and like many others things became difficult for her.

There are so many stories to be told of Jessie and sadly not enough room to tell even the funniest; and who can forget her contagious giggle?  Jessie was one of those characters that everyone in the village knew or knew of and will be missed.

Chris Walde

February – March 2022